Contemporary Challenges of the Digital Age: Disinformation, Misinformation and Fake News

Contemporary Challenges of the Digital Age: Disinformation, Misinformation and Fake News

The digital age has explicitly made our lives easier. In fact, the world is knitted together more than any time in history. The digital age enables us to reach information in seconds. Whilst the various advantages, the digitalisation brought challenges along with itself. Any information can be found online. To be more specific, as anyone can share any information, it is very easy to come across false information. In this post, I would like to discuss the reflections of the challenges in the digital age on immigrants and refugees in the context of false information and fake news. 

To begin with, in order to analyse how false information and fake news that rapidly increased in the digital age affects the view towards immigrants in the society, these concepts should be explained. It can be asserted that misinformation and disinformation are regarded as false information. The distinction in between them is that whilst misinformation is wrong information that is shared unintentionally, disinformation is false information that is spread deliberately. In this sense, disinformation may be a subset of propaganda that can target certain groups in the society such as immigrants. Consequently, the discrimination and prejudices towards one another might increase. 

Fake news can be described as the false, fabricated stories without verifiable sources or facts. However, fake news is more than just false stories. In fact, these fabricated stories are created to mislead the reader and may be “clickbait” that profits the writer everytime the news is clicked. Fake news can be a subset of propaganda and used as a manipulation tool in society to divert the truth for the benefit of those who have interests. The manipulation in public opinion can create and support the discrimination within society. In this sense, this type of power is prejudicial and harmful. Fake news can consist of deliberate inaccurate stories on economics, politics, immigrants, refugees or clickbaits. When it is used as a means of propaganda, fake news can be harmful to people not only by creating manipulated public opinion but also by the emotional and physical damage on people who are targeted. 

One may ask “so, how to spot fake news, misinformation and disinformation?”. Here are some detailed advices that may be helpful:

1. Always check the source if the information is published on a reliable website. Fake news websites may include spelling errors in the URL. You can learn more about the website by simply checking the “about us” section. 

2. Always check the author. Fake news or disinformation in the media will not be written by a credible author. You may check the author’s reputation and area of expertise. 

3. Always check the other sources about the specific information you are looking for. Additionally, you can check if there are citations and references. Checking the references may also be helpful to spot if the information is accurate.

4. Be mindful of the clickbaits 

False information and fake news have always existed. The digitalisation process unveiled the reality of the fake news and false information. At the same time, the awareness of the challenges that are brought by was enhanced in the digital age. Nevertheless, the development in the digital age enabled us to reach people on the other side of the world quickly. To elaborate more, spreading awareness in this matter is easier than ever using media channels such as social media despite all the challenges we encounter. As an example to this, when the right information about a violation of human rights in a place is published, thousands of people will be aware of the incident and it will be quicker to take an action. Moreover, since more people will be reached regarding the incident, the collective awareness as well as the actions will be taken quicker in today’s world. 

Speaking of the benefits that the digital age provided us, I would like to ask the question “what each of us can do not to be exposed with the fake news and false information”. I would like to address what can be done individually in my humble opinion. Firstly, we should always look for the resources and references when we search for information. Secondly, we should conduct good research from a couple sources to stick with the facts as much as possible. Third, we should gain more knowledge about what these terms actually are to understand why people are exposed to false information and fake news and how to limit these exposure. Lastly, we may join in actions to spread awareness in this matter to gain practical understanding of the situation whilst becoming a part for other people to acquire more knowledge. As it was once said “the more, the merrier!”; the more people become aware and learn how to combat fake news and false information,  the less exposure that people will encounter!


Sümeyye Temirov

Volunteer | MA Candidate in Human Rights